by Melanie Cowan, Special Sections Editor
The start to any good gumbo or bisque is a ROUX— it is sac religious to think otherwise in South Louisiana. A roux is the foundation used to thicken stocks and is most commonly used to make gumbo. Most rouxs start by continuously stirring flour and a type of fat (either butter or oil) to get a desired color. It is, in fact, a labor of love that shines through Cajun dishes and has been an art form of sorts for decades. There are a few ways to make a good roux and most Cajuns will claim their method is better than the next.
THE FIRST METHOD is an oil-less way of making a roux in the oven. All that is needed is two cups of all purpose flour. Start by preheating the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit, then spread the flour evenly along the bottom of a cast iron skillet. Bake, stirring the mixture occasionally for about an hour until the desired color is reached. When the color is reached, let cool on a cookie sheet until needed.
ANOTHER TRADITIONAL METHOD of making a roux is the Brown Roux method of mixing ½ cup of flour to ½ cup of butter together in a sauté pan. First melt the butter over medium-high heat. Slowly add flour stirring constantly until flour becomes light brown. The key here is stirring constantly because flour can become easily scorched and the roux will be unusable. If black specks show up in the roux, it is scorched and cannot be used.
THE LAST COMMONLY USED METHOD of making a roux is the Oil Base Roux. This recipe calls for 1 cup of vegetable oil to 1 cup of flour. It is prepared the same way as a Brown roux, however, it will taste different.
The color of a roux varies greatly as well and it is dependent on what the roux will be used for. A Blonde Butter Roux is cooked to a golden color, a White Butter Roux is cooked to a barley beige color, a Light Brown Cajun Roux which is light brown in color, and a Dark Brown Cajun Roux. A dark brown roux is usually used for gumbo. No matter the color, they are all helpful in the thickening of any Cajun dish that uses stock.
Take a look at the video above to learn more on how to make a proper Cajun roux.